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Murray hopes Mauresmo split not seen as failure for women

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ROME (AP) Andy Murray hopes his split with Amelie Mauresmo isn’t seen as a failure for women coaching top players.

The British star improved as a clay-court player under Mauresmo but failed to add to his collection of Grand Slam titles.

“It did work. For two years the results that we had were good,” Murray said at the Italian Open on Tuesday, a day after the breakup was announced. “Maybe unless I win a Grand Slam, then maybe ultimately that’s how people may judge whether it worked or not, but when she first came into the team, I was really struggling.”

Murray became the first high-profile tennis player to hire a woman as a coach when he took on Mauresmo in June 2014. He won his first clay-court titles last year in Munich and Madrid.

Murray was asked if he thought the split would hurt the idea of women coaching men.

“When she came on board, my results actually really picked up,” Murray added. “I mean, for me, the time we spent together was positive. It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to win one of the major events, because that’s what both of us wanted.

“Roger (Federer) stopped working with Stefan Edberg at the end of last year because Stefan Edberg wanted to spend more time with his family. … No one sort of batted an eyelid about that,” Murray said.

Mauresmo said Monday that “dedicating enough time along with the travel has been a challenge for me.” The Frenchwoman gave birth to her first child in August and took six months off from coaching.

Murray has also been coached by his mother, Judy.

“So, in my opinion, it’s nothing to do with Amelie being a woman,” Murray added. “It’s the case of it takes a lot of time to do the job well and properly. It’s not easy to do that for four, five years in a row.”

With the French Open starting in 12 days, Murray doesn’t have an immediate replacement.

“I haven’t really thought too much about a new coach,” he said. “It’s something that I will speak to my team about over the next few weeks and try and find something that works. I want it to work long term, so I will take that into consideration as well.”

Having lost the Madrid Open final last Sunday to Novak Djokovic, Murray dropped to No. 3 in the rankings behind Federer. Federer and Murray have the same number of points but Federer has a better record in the big events.

Murray’s performance in Rome represents his only chance to regain the No. 2 ranking ahead of Roland Garros.

“It would be nice if I could get to 2 again,” Murray said. “But if not, then yeah, it’s not something I’m going into this week worrying too much about.”

After a first-round bye, Murray’s opening match at the Foro Italico will be against Kazakh qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin on Wednesday.

Last year, Murray lost in the third round while Federer lost the final to Djokovic.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”

Kuznetsova out of Australian Open after left wrist surgery

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.

Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.

Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.